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Food Supplies Bound For Gaza Rot In The Heat As Egypt’s Rafah Crossing Stays Shut

Food supplies, Rafah crossing

Food supplies waiting to enter the Gaza strip into Egypt have begun rotting as the Rafah border crossing remains shut. This is the third week aid into Gaza has not gone in.  Rafah was a main entry point for humanitarian relief as well as some commercial supplies to Palestinians till May 6.

No food getting into Gaza

However, Israel has since stepped up its military offensive on the Gazan side of the border since then and taken control of the crossing from the Palestinian side. Aid workers say that since then no food has got in. Also, the aid that is waiting to get in through the crossing is spoiling.

Truck driver Mahmoud Hussein said his goods have been in his truck for a month, gradually spoiling in the sun. Some of the foodstuffs are now being discarded. Others are being sold cheaply.

“Some stuff has been returned and is being sold for a quarter of its price. I’m sorry to say that the onions we’re carrying will at best be eaten by animals because of the worms in them.”

Blame game between Egypt and Israel

Meanwhile, there has been a blame game going on as to who is responsible for the crisis. Egyptian officials say humanitarian operations are at risk from military activity and Israel needs to hand the crossing back to Palestinians before it starts operating again.

Israel and the US have called on Egypt, which is also worried about the risk of Palestinians being displaced from Gaza, to allow the border to reopen.

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UN warns of famine

The UN has called for immediate action. UN’s humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths warned of famine in the besieged territory. He added that there would be an “apocalyptic” outcome if this aid was not delivered.

UN data also shows that no trucks have crossed through Rafah since May 5. The nearby Israeli crossing of Kerem Shalom have also seen very few aid crossings.

The delay in food aid has caused scares outside Gaza but within Gaza as well. Ismail Al-Thawabta, director of the Hamas-run Gaza government media office, said that Palestinian medical and police officials that used to check goods coming into Gaza had been unable to do so during Israel’s offensive. The result he said is that there is no quality control.

“There is a big problem as many of the goods that enter the Gaza Strip are unfit for human use and are unhealthy. Therefore, the health ministry issued the warning statement to raise public awareness that people should examine the goods before eating them or sharing them with their families.”